With the colder weather, comes new potholes and damage to roads. If you are like most drivers on the road, you have probably swerved at the last second to avoid hitting a pothole. Or even worse, you’ve hit one and then crossed your fingers, hoping that it did not cause any damage. Sometimes driving can feel like a video game where you are constantly trying to avoid road hazards, not just for your safety, but for the damage they can cause to your vehicle. We are going to review why you should avoid potholes on the road, what they are, and how they can affect your vehicle.
What is a Pothole?
You have likely encountered a pothole or two in your life, but if not (you are lucky) and we’ve got you covered. A pothole is a depression in a road surface, usually asphalt pavement, where traffic has removed broken pieces of the pavement. It is usually the result of water in the underlying soil structure and traffic passing over the affected area.
Potholes are areas of road surface that have cracked, worn away, and eventually formed a hole. They usually start out as tiny cracks and if they’re not fixed right away, they can grow. Potholes may be anywhere from a few inches wide and deep to a few feet wide and several inches deep.
When vehicles travel on highways and city streets, they rely on a flat, smooth surface to help them move quickly, comfortably, and safely. Potholes can make a ride bumpy and potentially dangerous. They can also cause damage to different parts of your vehicle.
How can Potholes Affect Your Vehicle?
While potholes are worse and more common in some areas of the country than others, they are an unfortunate reality faced by many drivers. According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), a 2016 study revealed, that pothole damage had cost U.S. drivers $3 billion a year in vehicle repairs, and two-thirds of Americans are concerned about potholes on local roadways.
Let’s review what kind of damage a pothole can cause you and your vehicle and why you should avoid potholes on the road.
- Tires: The most common form of pothole damage to a vehicle is a blown-out tire or tires. Hitting a pothole can also lead to bent, cracked, or chipped rims. Any of these issues will make it hard for your tires and wheels to roll smoothly, which can lead to further damage for your vehicle.
- Suspension: Your vehicle’s suspension is made to absorb impact and give you a smooth ride; however, it can only withstand so much. The sudden nature of hitting a pothole can cause a number of suspension problems, such as: misalignment, broken ball joints, and damaged shocks and struts. Any damage to your suspension can cause your vehicle to drive funny, be unstable, and can put you at risk of rolling over.
- Exhaust and Undercarriage: If you “bottom out” on a pothole, the undercarriage of your vehicle will scratch the road. This can crack the oil pan, which will result in a leak, and/or it may damage the exhaust system, which could allow for the highly-dangerous situation of carbon monoxide traveling into the vehicle’s cabin.
- Body: If you hit a pothole hard enough, it can, unfortunately, damage your vehicle’s body, including the bumper and siding. Not only does this impact your vehicle’s physical appearance, certain types of body damage can impact the drivability as well.
- You: Lastly, let’s not forget, you should not only avoid potholes for your vehicle’s sake, but also for you and your passengers. Hitting a pothole can cause discomfort and injury to you and others in the vehicle. It could also distract you, throw you off course, etc., which could lead to an accident.
While you may not always be able to steer clear of every pothole you encounter, you should avoid potholes when you can, to minimize the potential damage to your vehicle and you.
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